Atlas director says Jennifer Lopez’s dance skill was key for mech work

A life spent destroying sci-fi, video games, and comic books led director Brad Peyton to his life’s work: directing Jennifer Lopez in a fucking mechanical suit movie. Connection for Atlasnow streaming on Netflix, was an easy yes: with two big-budget Dwayne Johnson vehicles under its belt, Carnage And San AndreasPeyton was no stranger to A-list-focused spectacle. Still, the film was a daunting prospect for someone with a deep appreciation for mech suits, mech tanks, oversized mechas, and every invented classification in between.

“I was very aware of what awaited me,” Peyton told Polygon. The director quotes James Cameron Extraterrestrials And Avatar as obvious but undeniable milestones in on-screen robot art. He knew that the Titanfall games put pressure on any new attempt at live action, having created total immersion in the experience of mechanical combat. But when he started to imagine how to rethink mechs, he returned to the first mecha media that really blew him away: that of Stuart Gordon. Robot Jox.

Peyton can’t really explain why Robot Jox was his Holy Grail, but speaking to him, it’s obvious: like Gordon’s flash vision of the future, where conflicts on Earth are settled by colorful robot duels, Atlas needed clear, well-defined logic that would anchor the worldbuilding, but also allow him to launch into the action department in a way that would delight his inner child. And ultimately, it had to be original.

“What was most important to me was: I knew I had to let go of everything,” Peyton says. “I had no interest in rehearsing. I said, Pac RimThe (mechs) are This big. In Avatarthey are This big. In Fall of the Titans, they are This big. So mine will be This big. This one could be square and blocky, so mine will be circular. I come from animation. So a lot of it started with me drawing the silhouette and figuring out how to make it unique and different.

Atlas is set in a relatively sunny future that still exists in the shadow of impending apocalypse. Decades earlier, a malicious artificial intelligence named Harlan (Shang ChiSimu Liu of ) fled Earth for an alien planet with the intention of one day returning to devastate humanity. When scientists discover Harlan’s whereabouts, Earth forces launch a mission to bring the fight to the robot army’s doorstep. Leading the way: Atlas Shepherd (Lopez), a data analyst recruited to go after Jack Ryan on Harlan’s ass. Of course, the attack doesn’t go as well as the Earthlings hoped, and Atlas must reluctantly don an AI-powered mechanical suit in order to survive on an alien planet populated by androids who want him dead.

The grounded futurism of AtlasEarth led Peyton and his creative team to extrapolate current military technology for the robot’s design. The rounded edges and exhaust pipes are lifted from the F-18 aircraft. The interior control panels were built for theoretical functionality.

“I had to figure out all the technology from the inside out,” Peyton says. “Because of my experience on San Andreas, where I had to understand how a helicopter worked intimately to tell Dwayne which buttons to press and not to press – at least when he would listen to me! — I took advantage of this experience and wanted to do a similar experience for (Lopez). I explained with the art department why there were screens in certain places, why there were holograms in other places. And then the same day, I give him little sons to tell him: “That’s it, this screen. This is where the screen is. So after she got through the blockage I took them out and she had to memorize where they were.

Image: Netflix

Drawings and schematics were only half the equation. After writing a draft, Peyton decided to bring her vision to life. As for animation, this meant animating different walk cycles to see if the bipedal machine could move in the right direction.

“The first two designs we had when we animated them to see how they would work – very basic animation, walk, run, walk, jog, run cycles – seemed so clunky and terrible,” says Peyton. The animation team found a rhythm in clarifying the dynamic between man and machine. “(Mechs) are intuitive devices. The concept I came up with was: the soldier is the brain. It doesn’t have to be very strong. It’s not like a grunt – the machine is the grunt. It is the emotional cognitive device that synchronizes with this thing. It must therefore be as fluid as a person who has been trained in it.

As Atlas travels the biomes of Harlan’s home planet, from snowy tundras to swamps inspired by Peyton’s love of Return of the Jedi – the hero of the film relaxes into his “no AI” position and forms a cognitive link with his robot’s digital interface. Like a twist on the buddy-cop movie, the two bond over survival, which comes as smoother mechanical movements. At first, Atlas might find himself going around a rocky cliff. In the end, she runs, rolls, and slaps the attacking robots with Mech-fu. Early walk cycle testing proved useful for the dramatic evolution, which Peyton was able to program into a massive soundstage gimbal system that replaced the mechanical suit. Lopez was surprisingly well suited to the demands of mechanical choreography.

“It was her experience as a dancer that allowed her to take a very quick measurement,” says Peyton. “Even if it looks like she’s walking, (the robot) is walking, and she has to react like she’s walking. This dance training therefore allowed her to launch directly into the field.

    Jennifer Lopez's Atlas in a robot cockpit as the robot kneels in attack position

Image: Netflix

It also helps that Lopez regularly performs in front of thousands, alone on a stadium stage. Peyton says Atlas turned out to be one of the most demanding shoots of her career, simply because for six to seven weeks, Lopez was performing solo on a gimbal that would be completely covered in plate shots, VFX environments and d bursts of other actions. sequences filmed elsewhere. Occasionally, voice actor Gregory James Cohan would log in to perform dialogue from Smith, his AI companion.

All the prep work required to make a robot with real-world action capability, and clicking on a star that was ready to control it, served to shake up the audience, Peyton says. The first time we see the mechs in action, it’s not in an act of bravery; they are ambushed, in mid-flight. The carrier ship breaks down – as does Atlas, in its platform. Peyton’s imagination swirled with the possibilities, as evidenced by the finished sequence. “(The robot) would fall, it would spin, it would get hit by debris. What would it be like to be trapped in this can? What would that look like? What would it feel like? And once I’ve had that experience, how can I up the ante? Well, what happens if I fall through dark clouds and find myself in a WWII dogfight, but with robots and drones? (…) It’s only the first, I don’t know, 20 seconds of a two-minute sequence.

“That’s how I design,” he says. “I want to surprise you. I want to offer you something you can’t see anywhere else.

Atlas is streaming on Netflix now.

Gn entert
News Source : www.polygon.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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